Okay, so I don’t know about y’all, but having a food intolerance/allergy as a teenager is HARD. Personally, I’ve found people are unsure as to whether you’re able to handle it on your own, or if they need to watch you like a hawk and keep you “out of trouble” like a first grader with a peanut allergy. I understand their desire is to be helpful. I really do. Yet, I’m perfectly capable of taking care of my intolerance and diet restrictions, but well-meaning people don’t always “get” that.
So, today I’m going to talk about exercising manners toward those within the Gluten Free community, as well as explain to others who aren’t familiar with the specifics how to “get” it. This will probably be a recurring series here on the blog, because I don’t want to bombard y’all with a ginormous never-ending post. So look out for more posts, and feel free to leave your ideas and opinions on Gluten Free Manners in the comments! 😉
Do not tell people what they can and cannot eat. Although it may seem sweet and thoughtful to read the ingredients label for me and see if it has any wheat products, there is really not a good way to communicate your findings without making the person on the receiving end feel about five years old. I’m sure your intentions were to be helpful, but normally teenagers with specific diet needs are used to reading labels on their own. and you forcefully stepping in with no prior experience to Gluten Free Living isn’t exactly the way to go about it.
So, in the future, maybe say “I think this may have wheat in it; would you like for me to check?” Just don’t do it automatically, unless you’re with a child who can’t read labels or take care of their intolerance or allergy independently. Otherwise it can come across more harmful than helpful.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of this behavior and don’t know how to respond, here are a couple ideas:
“Thanks SO much for looking over that for me! It was really thoughtful of you, but I’ve been reading labels for quite awhile now and may find ingredients containing wheat that you may not notice. Do you mind if I take care of it myself from now on?”
Or, you could go with, “I’m so glad you thought of me, and my ______________ (fill in the blank with your allergy or intolerance) but I’d really prefer to handle it on my own since I am familiar with the different terminology and specific things to look for on labels. Thanks though!
Overall, there are tons of ways to handle situations like the one above. Pick the way that works best for you. The ideas above are simply suggestions. Remember, be kind and address their input respectfully and with a good attitude.
What are some ways you would handle the above situation? Don’t forget to let me know!!
Have a marvelous Monday y’all! Also, check back for more Gluten Free Manners posts soon!